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[Editorial] Courts, prosecutors utterly out of their minds

[Editorial] Courts, prosecutors utterly out of their minds

Posted December. 12, 2000 09:39,   


We came across an utterly unbelievable and crazy thing Monday. The Seoul District Court handed down prison terms against three people for their plot to solicit a shooting near the Demilitarized Zone. The court also denied their request to post bail. Immediately following the sentence, the court and the prosecutors must have jailed them but failed to apprehend them due to their incredible blunder. The people have thus far kept our faith and trust in our courts. Regretfully, however, the courts are now betraying their lamentably slackened discipline.

Granted, the rights of defendants in criminal cases must fully be guaranteed and restraints should be exercised to minimize imprisonments. But equally important here is the rigorous administration of justice by a prompt and accurate execution of courts` sentences once the criminals are sentenced to prison terms. This will ensure the rule of law. For this reason, any blunders in the administration of criminal justice cannot be excused.

In particular, the courts` mistakes, small or big, raise a serious problem because they will do irreparable harm to the courts` authority. The Seoul District Court may have its excuses for Monday`s blunder. But, it cannot deny the fact that there was a good deal of administrative confusion due to its procedural oversight on detainment of the convicts

after its decision to deny their request to post bail.

The rules and regulations of our criminal law prescribe that officials of the court and prosecution offices have the right to physically detain in court convicts who were on bail, in order to imprison them immediately after the sentence. The Seoul District Court apparently erred here in taking the due measures for their physical detention at the court for their imprisonment.

We also think that the prosecutors have no excuse for their blunder. The prison terms of the convicts in this so-called "shooting plot scandal`` were more or less anticipated. The case has also drawn enormous interest from the general public. Thus, the prosecutor`s absence at the court`s final verdict was unthinkable, which led to the failure of their prompt imprisonment after the sentence.

Fortunately, Oh Jung-Eun and Han Sung-Ki, two of the three people involved in the case, were belatedly arrested on the day of the court`s sentence, and Chang Suk-Jung turned himself in the next day. That made possible the imprisonment of all three convicts, for which the prosecutors can hardly avoid their responsibilities.

What is profoundly disappointing and lamentable here is the fact that both the courts and the prosecutors refuse to admit their responsibility for the blunder. They are in a tug of war to shift the blame to the other side. They must now join together in drawing up proactive measures to rectify any flaws in our judicial system in order to have court hearings on persons with criminal indictments that are out on bail. But they appear to be preoccupied with shifting the blame. This is a betrayal of the people`s faith.

Furthermore, there was also another serious blunder on their part last month that caused a sort of tempest for both the court and prosecutors. The papers of prosecutors to instruct police to reinforce their inadequate investigations of a criminal case were sent due to an oversight by prosecution officials to the court instead, and the court issued the writ of arrest without reading the prosecutor`s further investigation instructions to police. The court`s belated notice of such an inadequate investigation led to the cancellation of the writ.

That is not all. In the past, when criminal defendants in the Korea Online case did not appear before the court, it led to a postponement. This was due to communicative confusion between the courts and the prison administration. The court`s discharge of its proper function is most essential for the nation`s future. The recent blunders of our courts and prosecutors should make them more determined to rigorously carry out the administration of justice.